The morning after our fun wine adventure we got up early for the opening of the Boboli Gardens, which are attached to Pitti Palace and prominently featured in Dan Brown’s Inferno. We wanted to beat the heat and we were successful for about the first hour of our visit. The gardens are fairly massive though not quite as big as Versailles and they feature many different old fountains, a cypress row, some modern statues, grottos, and several different types of buildings. Our first stop was a hike up to the top of the rose garden.
In the rose garden we got some great views of Florence’s rolling hills and then we took a gander in the Porcelain Museum. There were tons of different sets of china dating back anywhere from 200 – 300 years ago. There were other porcelain objects too like these creepy little figurines.
After the top rose garden area we strolled down the cypress row towards a very large fountain and the back up along the citrus grove finally making our way over to the vineyard, teahouse, and small grotto.
On our way out we stopped to take some pictures of the large Medici Grotto and were rewarded with a guard coming to let us in! We got to see all 3 chambers of the large grotto, which includes statues done by Michelangelo – it was quite impressive!
In the afternoon Ace and Andrew took a trip up to Pisa to take photos with the famous leaning tower. It looked like they had quite a time – there were several different ‘bloopers’ in the photos and they even got gelato before rushing to catch their train back. I didn’t go because I’d been before and someone has to plan the rest of our trip and write blogs! But don’t worry we included a picture from my trip 10 years ago too.
In the evening we went to dinner at a local’s home – we booked it through eatwith.com at the recommendation of my coworker James – thanks James! The dinner started with olives, focaccia, and pecorino cheese – of course it was paired with a local white wine. The second course was a traditional Tuscan soup, pappa al pomodoro, and then the main course spezzatino (a meat stew). Dessert was some delicious homemade cream and biscotti crumble served with an Italian Moscato dessert wine. Our dinner company was two older couples – one from Melbourne, Australia and the other from a small town outside of Vancouver, Canada. It was a nice change of pace to have an intimate dinner party at someone’s home!
On our last full day in Florence we hiked up the dome of the famous Duomo. Although Andrew and I have climbed up the towers of many cathedrals, none were quite like this. The stairs go in between the inner dome and the exterior dome and they are the same stairs that were used by the builders of this extraordinary cathedral. You get both a view of the dome from the inside and an amazing view of the cathedral and city from the outside. Ace was a trooper and conquered all 360+ steps like a champ!
Our next site was a look inside the Baptistery, which is the oldest building in Florence. From the outside it has the same design as the cathedral – white, green, and red marble but the inside is quite different. The domed ceiling is mosaic and is dominated by gold tiles – it was striking.
Before lunch we strolled through the courtyard and garden of the Medici fortress where we could imagine summer soirees being held hundreds of years ago.
For lunch we went to San Lorenzo market. The downstairs is a traditional market and upstairs are various different vendors and restaurants making delicious food sourced from the market below. We tried a burrata salad, a spinach risotto fried ball, a typical Italian street food sandwich, some pork dumplings, and Aperol spritz (an orangish liquor with soda, a slice of orange, and lots of ice). After lunch we bought some produce, meat, and limoncello in the downstairs market for dinner.